Chapter 22

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'Are you free this evening?' Jessica sent the text and lay back on the sofa. She wasn't sure if Kyle was working or not. She switched the TV on and mindlessly flicked through the channels as she waited for his reply. It came after about ten minutes.

'Just at work now, but will finish at 9.'

'Do you have time to meet for a drink?'

'Sure. Usual bar, just after 9?'

'Yeah. See you then.'

Jessica put her phone down and sighed. She didn't want to see Kyle tonight, but Ruby's revelation had left her needing to know. She just had to know if it was true or not. Thinking about it had cost her hockey team the game, and she was sure it would play on her mind all week at work. She couldn't wait until Friday, which was when they were due to meet. She had to know today.

"And if it turns out to be true, then I walk away," she thought. A feeling of sadness welled up inside her. She and Kyle got on well, in bed and out of it. She had enjoyed the past few weeks going for drinks, the nights making love, the trip to Edinburgh. Was Becky right? Was there more to it? "Maybe I like the guy," she thought. "Like him as in like him, not just like him." She went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. "But if what that woman says is true, then it's over. Whatever it is between us, is over. The last thing I want to do is walk into the arms of another James."

The day passed slowly. Jessica spent it dozing on the sofa, with her legs raised. Her shins and ankles were covered in bruises from the match. The other team had been tough tacklers. Normally Jessica would have avoided them better, but today hadn't been a normal day.

At 8:45 she pulled on a shirt and jeans and put on some make up. She tied her hair back in a loose ponytail, put on a pair of ballet flats, and left her apartment. It was only a short walk to the pub. She arrived before Kyle and ordered herself a glass of white wine. It was a quiet Sunday night, and most of the tables were free. She chose one away from other people and sat there, sipping her wine, waiting for Kyle.

"How am I going to bring it up with him?" she wondered. "I guess I'll just come straight out with it."

Kyle walked through the doors and looked around. His face broke into a smile when he saw her.

"Hi, sorry to keep you waiting. I'll just get myself a drink. Do you want anything?"

"No, I'm fine with this, thanks."

Jessica waited for Kyle to come back from the bar. He sat down and sipped his beer. "I needed that. Been on my feet all day." He looked at Jessica. "This is a change, meeting on a Sunday night. We normally only meet on Fridays," he said.

"Yes, well, there's something I want to talk to you about."

"Yeah? What is it?"

Jessica put her glass down and started at Kyle. "A blonde woman came to the sports centre today, before the match."

"OK. And?"

"A blonde woman who drives a silver Mercedes. Know her?"

Kyle's face turned pale. "Ruby," he said, staring at Jessica. "But how did she find you? I mean, why did she? I don't believe it. She's so jealous..."

"So you know her."

"She's my ex-girlfriend, yes."

"Ex-girlfriend?"

Kyle nodded. "Yeah."

"Not ex-fiancee?"

Kyle put his pint down and shook his head. "What has she told you?"

"That you left her just before the wedding."

Kyle shrugged. "Yeah, I did. I realized at the last minute that I couldn't go through with it. I'm not proud of what I did, and it has caused no end of trouble in my life, but I'm glad I did it." He stopped. "But Jess, is that a problem? I mean, it's all in the past."

Jessica glared at him. "Do you have any idea how that feels? To be all excited about your wedding, to be marrying the man of your dreams, the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, and then to have all that taken away? Do you know how that feels?"

"Hey, come on. She really turned on the sob story, didn't she? There's more to it than that."

"She didn't have to turn on the sob story. You know why? Because exactly the same thing happened to me. Only it was thirty minutes before the wedding, not two days. At least you deserve some credit for giving her 48 hours' notice."

Kyle started at Jessica. "I'm sorry, I had no idea," he said at last.

"Yeah, well I don't get involved with men like my ex. I promised myself that."

"Wait, are we involved?"

Jessica fell silent. She looked away.

"I was under the impression that we were just, you know, having fun," said Kyle. "I'm really sorry to hear about your wedding. I'm sure that must have been awful, but, do our pasts really matter?"

Jessica didn't know what to say. She knew that Kyle was right. They were just having fun. They had made that clear. Their pasts shouldn't matter. But she felt things had moved on slightly. He obviously didn't.

"Jess?" he asked.

She looked back at him.

"I really don't see the problem."

Jessica downed her glass of wine and stood up. "I need time to think. Just leave me for a while, OK?"

She walked out of the pub, leaving Kyle sitting there,open-mouthed.

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